China Releases Plan to Increase Renewable Energy Use

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Renewable Energy Sources, Source CA.gov

Earlier this month (5 March 2011), China released its Twelfth Five-Year Plan, demonstrating China’s path toward a more sustainable future with a continued commitment to ramping up renewable energy use.

Environmental targets to be achieved by 2015 include:

  • 11.4% primary energy supplied by “non fossil fuels” (currently at 8.3%).
  • 17% reduction of carbon emissions per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between 2010 and 2015.*
  • 16% reduction of energy consumption per unit of GDP between 2010 and 2015.*

These commitments are mandatory and keep China on track to meet its Copenhagen pledges from the 2009 international climate change negotiations. Including these targets in China’s Five-Year Plan indicates that China is serious about fulfilling its Copenhagen commitments.

Excerpt from WWF International’s press release:

“The 12th Five-Year Plan shows China’s determination to move on a more sustainable path. This is an important turning point, one that can have fundamental impacts on the world. We hope and have reasons to believe that central and local authorities increasingly recognize that future economic development and people’s well-being depend on a healthy natural environment,” says Dr. Li Lin, Deputy Country Representative at WWF China.

In terms of energy consumption per GDP unit, the target has been lowered to 16% from 20% of the 11th Five-Year Plan, which was almost achieved despite an economic stimulus package focusing on infrastructures that resulted in increased energy demand. WWF is hopeful the 16% target will be surpassed as increasing the rate of energy efficiency compared to GDP growth is critical to reducing carbon emissions….

WWF welcomes the focus on balancing social development. As experience in developed countries shows that higher incomes tend to correspond to a higher pressure on the Earth’s natural resources, WWF encourages China to give priority to resource-efficient production and sustainable consumption patterns in order to decouple economic growth from resource depletion.

For more analysis on China’s Twelfth Five-Year Plan, see NRDC China expert, Barbara Finamore’s, blog post—“China Puts Forth Energy Intensity, Carbon Intensity and Total Energy Consumption Targets in Twelfth Five Year Plan in Effort to Tackle "Unsustainable Economic Growth"” (5 March 2011)


* Footnote: Reductions based on GDP (also known as energy/carbon intensity targets) do not necessarily result in an overall decline in national carbon dioxide emissions or energy use. To decrease total national emissions/energy use, carbon/energy intensity must be reduced at a faster rate than GDP growth. Therefore, intensity targets are different from absolute reduction targets such as Kyoto Protocol commitments from countries to reduce total CO2 levels below 1990 levels. To read more about carbon intensity targets see World Resources Institute’s piece on China’s Carbon Intensity Target

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